How to Start Monetizing Your Content with Ads

If you’ve been creating your audio content for long enough, you’re probably wondering if you can start making money off of it. We already looked at the different ways you can monetize your audio content. Here, we dive deeper into one of the most popular ways to monetize: advertising. From when to start advertising to how to do it, we cover it all. 

Before we look into the specifics of this, it’s crucial to remember one thing. 

Involve Your Audience 

Listener support and engagement are vital parts of your audio journey. You likely started creating content because you had something to say to a specific audience. Your listeners are why you started doing this in the first place; it’s important to keep them front and center. Consider including them in your advertising ventures, especially when starting out. 

Here are some ways you can do that: 

  • Communicate your intention: Share with your listeners why you plan to advertise on your content. Authenticity is always rewarded. Whether your goals are to make more money or just to experiment with advertising on your content, keep them in the loop. You don’t want them to be surprised by sudden ads on the content. 
  • Conduct a listener survey: When you’re starting out placing ads on your audio content, you can ask your existing listeners what they think about this decision. Now, it’s important to remember that the final decision is yours. However, by asking them, you’re at least not going to wonder what their opinions on advertising are. 
  • Ask them for support and suggestions: Chances are that your listers are aware of brands and content that have high alignment with yours. Consider asking them which brands or companies you should approach to advertise or sponsor your content.

Before we get started on when and how to start advertising, let’s get some definitions out of the way.


  • Cost per thousand impressions or CPM: The cost an advertiser pays per thousand impressions or listens of their ad. This is a common way of measuring cost in audio ads. When you reach out to advertisers for their rates or set your own rates for ads, you’ll typically see this metric pop up. It’s important to note that CPM can differ across media and platforms. We get into this later.
    • CPM = (Cost/Impressions) * 1000
  • Cost per view or CPV: The cost an advertiser pays per viewing of a video ad. How long the video needs to be viewed for in order for it to be counted as a view depends on the agreement between both parties and/or the platform’s policies. CPV can also differ across media and platforms.
    • CPV = Total Amount Spent/Total Measured Views

Now, let’s look into when to start advertising, who to partner with, and the different ways in which you can get advertisers for your content.

When to Start Advertising

When to start advertising involves a bit of math using the following: 

  1. Your financial goals
  2. The relevant metrics 
  3. The current standard CPM and/or CPV rates

Let’s look at each of these, followed by the math this involves. 

Your Financial Goals

Consider what your financial goals are. If you’re looking to quit your day job and transition to full-time audio creation, the financial goal you set for yourself might be higher than if you were looking to make your content a self-sufficient financial project. 

Follow these general steps to determining your goal:

  1. Study your current finances to understand where you’re at. This helps you be realistic about your goals. 
  2. Determine what a short-term financial goal for your advertising efforts is. Is it to hire an assistant to help you create? Is it to build a workstation for yourself? Is it to buy that microphone you’ve been eyeing for a while? A short-term goal is one that you hope to achieve in 6-12 months.
  3. Determine what a long-term financial goal for your advertising efforts is. Is it to transition fully into audio creation? Is it to earn a certain margin on your content? A long-term goal is one you hope to achieve in 18-24 months.

The Relevant Metrics

Being clear on your current metrics is super important, be it for the sake of your own tracking or for pitching to sponsors. 

Depending on your content, your relevant metrics include: 

  • Downloads
  • Views
  • Streams
  • Listens 

Measure these on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. We recommend you do this from the time your first piece of content drops, even if you don’t plan to get advertisers immediately. If you have not done this, worry not! Simply collect the last quarter’s data and keep that handy. 

Current CPM and/or CPV Rates 

In order to make sense of how much you need to make to reach your financial goals, it’s essential to know the going rate for ads in your industry or on your platform.

If you opt for a platform or in-app advertising, know what the rates for your platform are and how they are calculated. 

  • YouTube uses CPM to measure ad rates. These CPMs can typically range from $2-$20. Here’s how YouTube calculates its CPMs. 
  • Twitch offers a variety of advertising options. Here’s a rundown and how much you can expect to make off of these.

A Bit of Math

With your audience metrics and earnings, you can calculate what you can expect to earn over a given time period. 

Once you know the CPM or CPV, use the formulas in the definitions above to calculate how much you can expect to make. As an example, if you’re a podcaster, the average CPM for podcast ads is usually around $25. Which means you’ll be paid $25 for 1,000 impressions. So if your audience size is 5,000, your podcast earns $25 x 5 = $125 per ad. 

With that in mind, you can estimate when you’ll reach your financial goals using this monetization model. Doing the math also helps you understand if monetization through advertising is for you.

Ways to Secure Advertisers

The most common ways to sign on new advertisers include: 

  • Directly – approach the brands you think will be well suited to run ads on your content. 
  • Through an agency – find an agency that specializes in monetization through audio ads. A few good ones are Gumball and Supercast
  • Platform ads  – opt into ads on the platform you use to host or distribute your content (e.g.  YouTube, Twitch, or Megaphone).

How to Start Advertising

Starting to advertise revolves mainly around the partners you choose. In this context, the term partners refers to the brands, sponsors, and/or marketing agencies you’ll work with. 

The three broad steps to start advertising are: 

  1. Finding potential partners 
  2. Choosing the right partners 
  3. Pitching those select partners

Finding Potential Partners

Kickstart your search for the right partners by exploring the following: 

  • Listener opinion – if you already have listeners, asking them is the best way to go. Conduct a listener survey to ask them about the kinds of brands they purchase and why, what motivates them to choose certain brands, and what companies do they never support. Knowing what your listeners align with will help make more informed decisions about who you should align with. 
  • Fellow creator experiences – reach out to other creators in your community to ask them which agencies, brands, and avenues they’ve employed for advertising. Bonus points if these creators produce content similar to or adjacent to yours.   
  • Brands that advertise on similar content – tune into similar content to yours to see which brands are advertising there. You can either approach those brands or their competitors to advertise on your content or both! 
  • Brands with shared values – look into brands that have the same mission, vision, and values as you do. This kind of alignment usually means you are aligned on audiences as well. Typically, they are trying to appeal to the audiences that are tuning into your content. 
  • Agencies that have worked with similar audio creators – research advertising agencies that work with creators to help monetize their content. Reach out to those that have worked with creators similar or adjacent to yours.

Choosing the Right Partners

The partners you pick for your audio content depend on the content itself and your goals. While this differs for everyone, there is such a thing as a right partner (and a wrong one).

The right partner for your audio content will have: 

  • Standards to match yours. Often when we pitch our content to be sponsored, we take on the scarcity mindset. The “I am so grateful anyone would even consider sponsoring this” mindset. This can lower our standards and you might find yourself saying yes to anyone. Start by setting your standards and honoring them. While this might seem tedious in the beginning, it’s sure to pay off in the long run. 
  • High alignment with your motivation. The sponsors and advertisers of a piece of content can say a lot about the creators. Make alignment on mission and vision a priority when working with a partner. Not only does this increase their chance of them saying yes to supporting you, but this also shows your audience that you’re serious about your message. Align yourself with brands that your audiences would likely align themselves with. 
  • Similar expectations and expectation-setting styles. Being clear on the expectations from both parties helps pick suitable sponsors. This could mean financial expectations, expectations of growth, or content expectations. Know your partners’ expectations beforehand and be sure to state yours clearly. The right partner will be forthcoming with their expectations. 
  • The ability to provide clarity. Seek and provide clarity on the operational side of things. The right partner will meet you halfway on these; providing clarity and their side of the information from the get-go. Typically, these operations include:
    • Legalities
    • Frequency and method of communication
    • Frequency and method of reporting
    • Payment

Sound advice: be unafraid to trust in your gut. Your content is your story. If you find your gut disagreeing with a particular sponsor, it’s okay to trust it. It’s better to be slow and intentional than to make haste and regret a decision. 

Pitching Your Partners

Once you’ve identified who you want to partner with, you’ve got to send them a stellar pitch. Pitching is a learned art and requires a more in-depth approach. That’s why, we’ve written a complete guide on How to pitch sponsors. 
Note: while the title of that article might say sponsors, the lessons and examples from it can be used to pitch to brands as well as agencies you might want to approach.

Overall Takeaways

  • Involve your audience in your decision to place ads, be it by asking them which brands to approach or simply letting them know of your intentions. 
  • Know your numbers. Your relevant metrics combined with what you can hope to earn for the ads will help you decide when to run ads. 
  • Set your standards when deciding who to align with. 
  • Offer and ask for clarity on expectations and boundaries with your partners. 

With this, we hope we’ve set you up for success in creating and monetizing that audio magic!

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